5 Awesome Anime Series

I’m a shameless otaku, I’ll admit that. I have a love of Japanese culture, and that largely stemmed from the fact that I loved (and still love) anime. These are my picks for TV series (excluding OVAs and movies) that everyone has to see.

5. Outlaw Star (星方武侠アウトロースター,  Seihō Bukyō Autorō Sutā)
Director: Hongo Mitsuru

Gene Starwind leads a normal life as a part-time repairman, part-time bounty hunter with his young partner Jim Hawking. That is until he receives a request from “Hot Ice” Hilda. Soon he meets the mysterious Melfina and gains possession of the equally mysterious and highly advanced spaceship, the Outlaw Star.

Outlaw Star is basically the ideal series for people who need a point to jump off from the Toonami phase of anime watching. Outlaw Star has everything that constitutes a fun anime series: lovable characters, an interesting story, cat-girls, and a whole lot more. I need to mention that the ending themes were two of Arai Akino’s best songs; in fact, you can thank this series for my being a fan of hers. Unfortunately, the problem the series had was it was a bit inconsistent both in episode quality (a pretty significant portion of the 26-episode series was filler) and in art, where it sometimes looked like a substitute staff came in to draw the characters. Nonetheless, Outlaw Star definitely had the makings of a great series, and I especially recommend it to beginners.

4. You’re Under Arrest! (TV Season 1) (逮捕しちゃうそ, taiho shichauzo)
Director: Watanabe Hiroshi, Nishimura Junji

The first season of the You’re Under Arrest TV series followed up the OVA, and was subsequently followed up by Season 2 (Released in the US as Fast and Furious) and Full Throttle. Out of all the anime in the YUA! franchise, the first TV series was by and far the best. It worked well as a slice-of-life comedy following the daily shenanigans of the police at Bokuto Station. What I liked about YUA! in general was about how the show was about traffic police, meaning they do the most boring jobs in the police department as opposed to Crime and Investigation. Despite being about the dullest of the dull jobs in the department, YUA! keeps things interesting with absolute hilarity. The biggest problem YUA! had was it looked really dated. Despite following the visually excellent OVA, the first TV series looked about a decade older than it actually was. Also the episodic nature of the series did lead to some rather weak episodes cropping up here and there. Nonetheless, YUA! is my personal favorite comedy anime, and I think it’s a shame that it’s as obscure as it is in the United States.

3. Trigun (トライガン)
Director: Nishimura Satoshi

Trigun follows insurance agents Milly Thompson and Meryl Strife as they try to keep the 60-million Double Dollar man, Vash the Stampede, from causing more property damage. Vash in the meantime, is on a personal mission. Trigun is part of the “Holy Triumvirate” of science fiction anime that came out in 1998, along with Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop. While Bebop is frequently named the best of the three, I personally liked Trigun best. Vash the Stampede is one of my all time favorite lead characters for an anime series. He has a  similar ideology to Himura Kenshin in that he refuses to kill no matter what, only that Vash is an expert gunslinger instead of a swordsman. Other than that, Vash is a totally different character. Even besides Vash, Trigun was blessed with one of anime’s best ensemble casts in one of anime’s better stories. I will also admit that Trigun (specifically episode 17) was the first time I cried while watching an anime. Besides the slow pick-up, Trigun is probably the perfect science-fiction series, in my humble opinion.

2. Vision of Escaflowne (天空のエスカフローネ Tenkū no Esukafurōne)
Director: Akane Kazuki

High school student Hitomi has a penchant for predicting the future. Before long, she meets Van, from the world of Gaiea. Hitomi then winds up on Gaiea while it is in the middle of a world war. Escaflowne is a fantasy series that has a large amount of mecha (here, they’re Guymelefs) combat for good measure. The main thing Escaflowne had going for it was the shear depth of the world it took place in, particularly with the geopolitical atmosphere. Besides that, Escaflowne featured amazing visuals, an outstanding soundtrack written by Kanno Yoko, and probably one of the best stories in the fantasy genre.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師, hagane no renkinjutsushi)
Director: Mizushima Seiji

Edward Elric is a child prodigy in the field of alchemy. He, along with brother Alphonse, attempts to resurrect their dead mother, knowing full well that human transmutation is the biggest taboo in alchemy. The result was a botched transmutation, Ed losing two of his limbs, and Al’s body being destroyed and his soul put into a suit of armor. Thus begins the search for the Philosopher’s Stone so the brothers can restore themselves. Admittedly, I have not read the manga, but I am aware this anime more or less rewrote the story entirely. Nonetheless, FMA was a 51-episode long series, and it used literally every single one to tell the best story it possibly could. FMA excelled visually and featured a great soundtrack. Furthermore, the cast of characters were excellent where everyone had massive amounts of depth. While FMA is a fantasy series, it is also a meditation on relationships and on scientific and wartime ethics; in other words, it’s precisely the anime Kurau Phantom Memory should have been. Basically, you need to watch this series. Just pretend the lackluster movie that follows it up doesn’t exist unless you really want to see Hitler’s cameo.

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